Building a Cleaning Empire: AJ Simmons Reveals Strategies to Scale Your Commercial Cleaning Business

Available in:


Join us as we sit down with AJ Simmons, a trailblazing entrepreneur in the cleaning industry. Discover his journey from young entrepreneurship to industry leadership. Uncover insights on scaling operations, creating memorable customer experiences, and revolutionizing the cleaning business. Tune in for a fresh perspective on success in commercial cleaning.


INTRO/OUTRO [00:00:02]:

Welcome to the Cleaning in Motion Show. A podcast interviewing successful cleaning business owners to hear what they’re doing that works and what they’ve tried that’s failed, all to help you grow your business. And now on to the show.

Samuel Klein [00:00:27]:

So, ladies and gentlemen, it’s not every day that we’re graced by the presence of someone who has paved the path for countless entrepreneurs and continues to redefine what it means to be successful in the cleaning industry. Since stepping into this world of entrepreneurship at age 19, he not only has a vast experience in the commercial cleaning industry, but has empowered hundreds of individuals from entrepreneurs walk of life. His achievements and awards include: leading Clean Biz Network, serving as a managing director for A&A Solutions LLC, a renowned commercial cleaning company in Virginia, and even offering his expertise as a franchise consultant for JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting many years ago. I believe now he wears many hats, from marketing and sales expert to business strategy. All with the aim to elevate the cleaning industry and help businesses big and small reach their pinnacle. Today, we’ll dive deep into the strategies that have worked for commercial cleaning company owners and how to scale your operation. We also get a sneak peek into the future of the cleaning industry, brainstorming a little bit and sharing ideas of what we think it’s going to come. And with further ado, I present you Mr. AJ Simmons. Hopefully the introduction was spot on, but feel free, please to jump in if that wasn’t accurate, but how are you, AJ?

AJ Simmons [00:02:12]:

I’m great, Sammy. You killed it.

AJ Simmons [00:02:14]:

That was one of the best introductions I ever received. I see you did your own work, so thank you.

Samuel Klein [00:02:18]:

I appreciate that. Yeah, man. It seems like you’ve been in the industry for a long time with your ups and downs. I have heard a lot of your interviews. If you google commercial cleaning or cleaning, somehow you will find AJ for sure. And yeah, AJ, why don’t you talk a little bit about your path? If you can give us your short story of how you started and how you get where you are today, where you’re helping hundreds of cleaning company owners succeed online and applying. Because what I like about you and what I have seen is not only teaching marketing or sales or operation, you also go deep into the mindset. I think that’s a topic that nobody ever speaks very much. And the entrepreneur life is a very lonely life and sometimes we do need that refresher or someone who can push us and make us understand that we’re not alone. And as a company owner, we all go for ups and downs constantly. So yeah! We’ll love to hear your story, man.

AJ Simmons [00:03:32]:

For sure, man. I’ll try to keep it brief.

AJ Simmons [00:03:35]:

So I’m AJ. Simmons.

AJ Simmons [00:03:36]:

I started in the cleaning industry when I was about 18 years old. Fresh.

AJ Simmons [00:03:41]:

I think I did a little bit.

AJ Simmons [00:03:42]:

In high school, then really got into it that summer, graduating high school.

AJ Simmons [00:03:46]:

Worked for a guy named Pops.

AJ Simmons [00:03:47]:

He was a Jani-King franchise owner. Eventually I decided at 19 I was.

AJ Simmons [00:03:53]:

Going to buy my own franchise. So I bought a franchise with coverall. Was an awful cleaning franchise owner.

AJ Simmons [00:03:59]:

I didn’t clean very well at all.

AJ Simmons [00:04:00]:

I was losing most of the contracts.

AJ Simmons [00:04:02]:

That they gave me. Somehow they still believed in me and.

AJ Simmons [00:04:04]:

Kept giving them to me anyway.

AJ Simmons [00:04:05]:

But I will keep losing them.

AJ Simmons [00:04:06]:

And so after a while, I realized I was going down a path of.

AJ Simmons [00:04:10]:

At some point they’re going to stop.

AJ Simmons [00:04:11]:

And I’m going to be out of business.

AJ Simmons [00:04:12]:

So I just sold the rest of.

AJ Simmons [00:04:13]:

It, sold the different accounts off to other franchise owners.

AJ Simmons [00:04:16]:

Got out of that, opened two different barbershops. Both of those ended up closing down. And I got back into the cleaning industry again because I realized after so many failures that it was me and not the other people’s fault. So I started again with the right mindset. Boarding with JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting.

AJ Simmons [00:04:33]:

That was in 2014. Became the franchise owner of the year. By the end of that year, honorable.

AJ Simmons [00:04:38]:

Mention, franchise Owner honorable Mention.

AJ Simmons [00:04:40]:

So that means I was a top ten franchise owner out of their whole worldwide network of franchise owners.

AJ Simmons [00:04:46]:

A few years later, they decided to ask me to be an operations manager, franchise owner, consultant, and moved me down.

AJ Simmons [00:04:54]:

To Jacksonville, Florida, where I reside today. I originally came from Virginia, so they moved me down to Florida.

AJ Simmons [00:04:59]:

I was still running my franchise in Virginia remotely. And then I also lived in Florida.

AJ Simmons [00:05:04]:

And I was the operations sales consultant for franchise owners. And then eventually I got out of.

AJ Simmons [00:05:12]:

That, decided, you know what, they were cool. That was great. But I want to do my own thing and teach people my way.

AJ Simmons [00:05:18]:

So I started clean biz network. And today Clean Biz Network has been.

AJ Simmons [00:05:22]:

Running and thriving since 2018 and beyond.

AJ Simmons [00:05:24]:

So here we are today.

Samuel Klein [00:05:26]:

No, that’s great. Can you tell us a little bit what does Clean Biz Network do? I know you have your coaching part and you also help with the marketing and sales and setting appointments. If you can tell us a little.

AJ Simmons [00:05:39]:

Bit what you offer. Yes, sir. So I’m going to do my best.

AJ Simmons [00:05:43]:

To not butcher this.

AJ Simmons [00:05:45]:

I’m the worst person to describe it right, but basically Clean Biz Network is right now the CRM software. But before we became and evolved into that, what we really were were a coaching company. We provide starter kit for people who just want to get started.

AJ Simmons [00:06:01]:

We provide training for people who are.

AJ Simmons [00:06:03]:

Ready to scale to their next level.

AJ Simmons [00:06:05]:

We have a telemarketing service, so it’s really like appointment setting service. We call it our lead generation service. You pretty much just simply fill out.

AJ Simmons [00:06:12]:

The application, tell us where you’re located, and we’ll cold call businesses in your area, schedule, walk through appointments for you, for the commercial industry, you go up and try to show up and close the deal. So that’s pretty much the main thing. We help you start grow scale your cleaning company.

AJ Simmons [00:06:28]:

And we also have a mobile app.

AJ Simmons [00:06:30]:

As well that’s companion to our website at cleanbiznetwork app.

AJ Simmons [00:06:33]:

And that’s pretty much the overall gist of it.

AJ Simmons [00:06:36]:

I didn’t forget anything.

Samuel Klein [00:06:38]:

No. It seems like a one stop shop solution to scale your cleaning company, including the coaching part, which I think is crucial because we also work with commercial cleaning companies and doesn’t matter sometimes how many leads you give them. But if their processes or their operation is broken, you can give them 100 appointments. And they are not going to scale their business. Even if they close a big percentage of those ones. There is always a trouble. Someone fires, someone quits, whatever the problem. So I think the coaching, it’s crucial to make this the whole marketing and sales pieces come together, for sure. So a thing that I admire from you a lot is that I think I’m going to identify with you, that I completely come with a mindset of abundance. It seems like you share absolutely everything online. It doesn’t matter, you’re not thinking about competitors or this guy is going to copy me or Sam that is going to grab my strategy, start offering to an other company. So tell me a little bit if that was always the case for you and if you develop that abundance mindset and how can people start thinking a little bit like you in the sense of share? The market is big enough and the reason I want to touch this is because sometimes I want to put together some cleaning business owners because I know they can help each other if they have a conversation. But the first reaction is always, no, that guy is my competitor, he’s in my market, blah, blah. And immediately it’s just that they shelf theirself in this cocoon. So if you can give me some tips and also talk about your experience, how do you develop this abundance mindset would be great.

AJ Simmons [00:08:45]:

Yeah, so that’s literally it, man. I try to move with that abundance mindset.

AJ Simmons [00:08:50]:

Somebody told me, I can’t remember, but it’s an old phrase that says what’s for me, is for me. So it’s like I use my personal brand, the one that I just started to build a personal brand to start to put my story out. And instead of trying to always create.

AJ Simmons [00:09:05]:

Content, I said I’m just going to.

AJ Simmons [00:09:08]:

Document my journey as an entrepreneur. And then the people who resonate with me and want to learn from me, they’ll come to me.

Samuel Klein [00:09:14]:

And then those who not filling me.

AJ Simmons [00:09:17]:

Maybe they’ll like to learn from some.

AJ Simmons [00:09:18]:

Of these other people that I collaborate with.

AJ Simmons [00:09:21]:

And I’ll be honest here.

AJ Simmons [00:09:24]:

It’s not always sunshine and rainbows. I definitely understand it is business and.

AJ Simmons [00:09:30]:

I definitely do sometimes I’ll find myself getting outside of that abundance mindset.

AJ Simmons [00:09:37]:

There have been times I was like, wait a minute, that product is too much like mine.

AJ Simmons [00:09:40]:

Now I don’t know if I’m going.

AJ Simmons [00:09:41]:

To be able to partner with them yet. But even if people offer something similar.

AJ Simmons [00:09:47]:

To my products, then what I’ll do.

AJ Simmons [00:09:49]:

Is I’ll just try to find a way where we can either A, become affiliate partners for each other or maybe we can partner on a different aspect of our companies together.

AJ Simmons [00:09:59]:

But I just try to do my best to just remember though, that you know what I mean, only I can.

AJ Simmons [00:10:03]:

Do what I do the way that I do it. And then the people who want to get my services from me and my company, then they’ll go for it. And then also too, just making sure that you just offer a great product.

AJ Simmons [00:10:14]:

You know what I mean?

AJ Simmons [00:10:15]:

Like, if you have a great product or service, then that pretty much will speak for itself.

AJ Simmons [00:10:20]:

And then if you happen to build.

AJ Simmons [00:10:22]:

A personal brand in addition to that, then that’s just icing on the cake to help as well.

Samuel Klein [00:10:27]:

No, I think it’s also come down to your intentions. If your intentions are good, it’s something that you will attract good people and that’s it. And the other part is that in reality, you can share absolutely everything. If you follow Gary B, Grant Cardone, etc, they always preach about that you can share absolutely everything, but only 1% take action and really implement it. Overall, the market is huge. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with cleaning companies that they do 30 million in revenue and they only have 4% of the market or 3% of the market. It’s insane how big the market can be. And with that said, I want to pick up your brain because I know you do a lot of coaching calls and you probably every week, multiple times per day talk with cleaning business owners and want to focus more the conversation with established business owners, people that at least have survived their first couple of years and now they want to grow. So can you share a little bit? What are the common challenges that you see with companies that are somehow established? They survive again the first couple of years, three years. How you help them overcome those challenges.

AJ Simmons [00:11:52]:


AJ Simmons [00:11:53]:

So I think the number one challenge.

AJ Simmons [00:11:54]:

Once you get past our first couple of years, in the beginning is always pricing, finding customers. Once you make it past that first low entry phase, then it becomes the real problem, which is staff them. Right. So the way I found that helps the people, I tell them to do.

AJ Simmons [00:12:10]:

What I do and what I’ve always.

AJ Simmons [00:12:11]:

Done is simply find partners. Find partners who are also entrepreneurs too, because they’re easier to work with than employees tend to be because of the.

AJ Simmons [00:12:21]:

Mindset, and just try to build a.

AJ Simmons [00:12:23]:

Relationship to where I’m transparent with them. Hey, give you a percentage of the deal, let them know exactly what the percentage is.

AJ Simmons [00:12:31]:

You don’t feel like you have to.

AJ Simmons [00:12:31]:

Hide what the contract actually pays and.

AJ Simmons [00:12:34]:

Just kind of build that relationship where.

AJ Simmons [00:12:35]:

You actually have a partnership and not.

AJ Simmons [00:12:37]:

Just some type of subcontractor thing where you’re always under me forever.

AJ Simmons [00:12:41]:

You know what I mean? And maybe they might come across a deal where they’re the prime contract and they’ll sub to you and if the money makes sense, we can do it that way. But that’s pretty much been the biggest thing I see is the staffing part. And so that’s kind of been my solution for it is just to go.

AJ Simmons [00:12:58]:

Out there and find some good partners that you can grow with. Because I’m looking at the bigger companies out there. I’ve networked with a lot of them. I come from a franchise background. And when I just look at the.

AJ Simmons [00:13:07]:

Overall model of all of the bigger companies, that just seems to be what they’re all doing.

AJ Simmons [00:13:11]:

So that’s kind of what I advise my people to do. And that’s why I forget I did create a program for that, the Cleaning Business Automation Program, that kind of specializes.

AJ Simmons [00:13:21]:

In teaching people who’s ready to scale at that level and start partnering with other cleaning companies.

Samuel Klein [00:13:26]:

Can you talk a little bit more about the automation part that I have here in our interviews? And I know that you offer automations. We also do. But people, when you say automations, in my experience, they’re not sure what you’re talking about and how do I make them work more efficiently with automations and good technology? Go ahead. No, if you can talk about that.

AJ Simmons [00:13:56]:

Yeah, I’ll keep it general, but basically.

AJ Simmons [00:13:59]:

I break it into three different segments.

AJ Simmons [00:14:01]:

So I say one, we need to have customers coming in or at least.

AJ Simmons [00:14:05]:

Leads coming in like a waterfall, right?

AJ Simmons [00:14:07]:

You can turn it on and off. So in the one section, I’m teaching you how you can do that and.

AJ Simmons [00:14:12]:

It’s like, well, what qualifies me to do that? Well, because I run a lead generation.

AJ Simmons [00:14:15]:

Service, the whole United States and Canada, right? So apparently I know how to do something here.

AJ Simmons [00:14:20]:

So then in the second part is.

AJ Simmons [00:14:22]:

Okay, well now how do we attract that quality talent? And so that’s the part where I kind of show you, okay, you want to recruit these types of people, these types of companies, create a partnership with them. And then the third part is the.

AJ Simmons [00:14:36]:

Software to bring it all together.

AJ Simmons [00:14:37]:

So that way all of your vendors or your contractors are all in one place, central located. All of your leads and your customers are in a central located place.

AJ Simmons [00:14:47]:

And all of it is automated so you’re not running like chicken with his head cut off trying to figure out.

AJ Simmons [00:14:53]:

All these different moving parts.

AJ Simmons [00:14:54]:

You can kind of have the software.

AJ Simmons [00:14:56]:

System to bring it all together into one.

AJ Simmons [00:14:58]:

And just for you first, 1000% transparency here. So I’m not going to act like.

AJ Simmons [00:15:04]:

I’m some type of software genius, right? I’m just very resourceful. So I originally had my own mobile.

AJ Simmons [00:15:12]:

App that I actually did build on.

AJ Simmons [00:15:13]:

An app builder software. But when I found out about this program called Go High Level, I pretty.

AJ Simmons [00:15:19]:

Much just migrated everything that I had, my biding calculators, proposed generators and all.

AJ Simmons [00:15:23]:

Of that type of stuff and just built it on top of a CRM platform called Go High Level.

AJ Simmons [00:15:28]:

So that way we can be a.

AJ Simmons [00:15:30]:

Full all in one platform.

Samuel Klein [00:15:33]:

No, I love it. We also use it. It’s amazing. It’s very prevalent. But yeah, I think the keyword is resourceful. Everything in today’s world is just one video away, so it can make your life so much easier. One of the things that I think you have a lot of experience and I cannot talk much about that because I didn’t never own a commercial cleaning company, but I think there should be more conversations about that. What’s the ideal? And I know this is a little bit of some looking, I guess, for a generic answer because everybody has a different structure. But in your experience, what is the ideal or structure of a team of a company that it’s, I don’t know, in the highest six figures or almost hitting the seven figures? What’s the perfect, at least management team? If they have a group of 20 cleaners or things like that? Let’s put that on the site. How is the structure? You have a general manager, you have salespeople. Can you tell.

AJ Simmons [00:16:44]:

I’ll tell you the way I ran… the way I ran mine remotely to be able to live in Florida. And then I’ll also tell you the key, like what I learned from JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting as an operations manager, right? So the way I ran had I’m remote, right? I’m just a guy who’s the head of everything. Like if everything nobody else has answered, then it comes all the way to me, right? But under me then I had a general manager who pretty much supervised everything going around. Like we needed something to be refilled.

AJ Simmons [00:17:09]:

If we needed somebody to fill in.

AJ Simmons [00:17:11]:

For cleaning, if we needed somebody to do anything that needed to be done. The general manager was ultimately it was up to them.

AJ Simmons [00:17:17]:

And that was my brother, by the way.

AJ Simmons [00:17:18]:

So it made it easier. He just came home from prison, so his options were limited because he was a felon. And so it made it a lot easier.

AJ Simmons [00:17:27]:

And that’s another trick too. Well, not even a trick, more so a tip that you want to make.

AJ Simmons [00:17:31]:

Sure that you choose the right person.

AJ Simmons [00:17:33]:

For the job because it has to.

AJ Simmons [00:17:37]:

Be some incentive there for them to do it.

Samuel Klein [00:17:39]:

All right?

AJ Simmons [00:17:39]:

So I got my general manager the next right beside them, sort of beside them, but a little bit under them is my inspector. So my inspector would go by, I.

AJ Simmons [00:17:48]:

Guess I should have went the other way around. Either way, I’ll keep going down.

AJ Simmons [00:17:50]:

But the inspector would check behind the buildings.

AJ Simmons [00:17:53]:

They would also wash the microfiber cloths.

AJ Simmons [00:17:57]:

And all of the buildings once a week. What else did they do? That’s pretty much it for the most part. And then just report to the manager their inspection reports. Then we had the actual cleaning tech, so the cleaners will actually be the.

AJ Simmons [00:18:09]:

Ones who actually go out there and.

AJ Simmons [00:18:10]:

Get the job done. We had a spreadsheet, simple spreadsheet that wasn’t nothing fancy with all of the different building locations.

AJ Simmons [00:18:18]:

And if somebody called out or we.

AJ Simmons [00:18:21]:

Need somebody that wanted more work or.

AJ Simmons [00:18:23]:

Anything like that, they could look at.

AJ Simmons [00:18:24]:

The spreadsheet, see what color is labeled, see what’s available, and they can switch, they can fill in for each other.

AJ Simmons [00:18:30]:

We had a group chat text, so everybody can text each other, hey, I won’t.

AJ Simmons [00:18:33]:

Make it on Thursday, blah, blah, blah, which most of the time we didn’t have that because I had a very.

AJ Simmons [00:18:38]:

Strict no call policy.

AJ Simmons [00:18:40]:

And I will say it plain and simple. If you don’t show up this was my earlier days, right? But if you don’t show up, I have to go. And if I have to go, then why are you here?

Samuel Klein [00:18:49]:

You know what I mean?

AJ Simmons [00:18:50]:

So I’m already paying you as best as I could pay you. I never did raises. I never believed in them.

AJ Simmons [00:18:54]:

I still don’t. I say figure out what’s the absolute max shouldn’t afford. Pay somebody, pay them that from day one. So now you pass the competition. Then also just treat them with respect. Tell them what you expect from them, give them the freedom and get out of the way. Empower them to go do great job. So that was how I ran once.

AJ Simmons [00:19:12]:

I got so now if you’re bigger, right? Because some of y’all are a little.

AJ Simmons [00:19:15]:

Bit bigger than that. So my days as operation manager for.

AJ Simmons [00:19:19]:

JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting, what I saw was and they were doing say, a load of.

AJ Simmons [00:19:24]:

Mid six figures a month, and I.

AJ Simmons [00:19:25]:

Had to run that whole operations by myself.

AJ Simmons [00:19:28]:

Initially it was me and another operation manager who also kind of mentored me.

AJ Simmons [00:19:32]:

But then they eventually had to let them go. I think it was maybe like 500.

AJ Simmons [00:19:37]:

Accounts that I was running solo by myself here.

AJ Simmons [00:19:40]:

But the way we had it was very simple.

AJ Simmons [00:19:43]:

Sales manager, operations manager, bunch of subcontractors, which they were franchise, but subcontractors to me, all same.

AJ Simmons [00:19:50]:

And that’s all literally all it took.

AJ Simmons [00:19:53]:

Now, they also did have like a cold calling team, appointment, setting team out in their main office, which was in Orlando. So they would help with setting appointments.

AJ Simmons [00:20:02]:

For the sale management. And sometimes I would take some of.

AJ Simmons [00:20:05]:

Those appointments as well, specifically for the.

AJ Simmons [00:20:07]:

One time special cleaning job because it just seemed like the operations manager would.

AJ Simmons [00:20:11]:

Fit that better because I knew the.

AJ Simmons [00:20:14]:

Franchise owners better, so I knew what.

AJ Simmons [00:20:16]:

Would be the best for the job to assign to that particular job that we wanted. That’s really all you really need is operations manager, sales manager. And they can run an old office on their own if they want.

Samuel Klein [00:20:27]:

Nice. So in your business, you are the sales manager or you already have because I hear you say operation manager, that’s your brother inspector and who’s doing the sales?

AJ Simmons [00:20:42]:

That was when I still have my franchise.

AJ Simmons [00:20:44]:

So they had I didn’t have to add that.

Samuel Klein [00:20:47]:

Okay, so it’s a very lean team. It’s not like a crew of 20 people to hit multiple seven figures. Because in your experience with JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting, and I see it all the time, it’s usually a small team and just the contractors who you have to choose very careful.

AJ Simmons [00:21:11]:

I will add to it. Just remember that eventually we did bring my wife on to be the office manager. So it was three. So sales manager, operations manager, then your office manager to send invoices and keep.

AJ Simmons [00:21:23]:

Up with the CRM and all of.

AJ Simmons [00:21:24]:

That stuff because eventually it was too much for me to handle once we got rid of the other operations manager.

Samuel Klein [00:21:30]:

No, I think you have to know when it’s too much for you. If you are bragging to operations constantly and you cannot move forward the company, it’s the number one mistake that I guess business owners do. So you have the perfect team or the ideal team. Now, how do you scale that company? What has worked for you? And I’m happy to share what we do as well to keep consistency in sales, in bringing appointments and leads and close and so on.

AJ Simmons [00:22:07]:

Yeah, it’s those same three things, right? So knock down sales. So what are we doing to constantly generate leads? Are you making a certain amount of calls every single day, Monday through Friday?

AJ Simmons [00:22:18]:

Are you doing a certain amount of door knocking? Are you buying a certain amount of leads?

AJ Simmons [00:22:22]:

What are you doing to constantly keep those leads coming in then, from your salesperson? What are they doing to actually close?

AJ Simmons [00:22:29]:

Like, are you keeping up with are.

AJ Simmons [00:22:30]:

They closing x amount of customers per month or per day or whatever the case may be, right? So handle the sales simultaneously. Somebody has to be handling recruiting the talent, maintaining the talent as well. Like, are they quality?

AJ Simmons [00:22:44]:

Are we tracking them?

AJ Simmons [00:22:45]:

Are we doing inspections? Right? So all of that type of stuff.

AJ Simmons [00:22:48]:

To monitor those things.

AJ Simmons [00:22:49]:

And then the third piece is just simply the system to track it all, to make sure that as senior level management or owners, we can actually be able to look at it and know, okay, bam. The salesperson is only closing 2% of the contracts. Is it the salesperson or is it the leads? We have to have those two things in place and then a system that track everything. So that way as the executive, we can look at it and know, okay, well, this is where we need improvement, and then make the necessary adjustments.

Samuel Klein [00:23:20]:

No, I love it. So for us, definitely grabing the phone or having inside sales or appointment setters or outsource it, but that’s the number one lead source. And after that, people are surprised sometimes to hear that cold email and LinkedIn outreach works, but it’s as free as it gets, and it definitely works very well. And for us, it’s all about consistency. People forget this is a business to business industry, and sometimes closing a deal can take from one month all the way to eight months. If you’re not consistent and you have a follow up system that is knocking on the door constantly of the facility managers or decision makers, it’s very hard to compete with people that have that structure. I recently came with a cleaning business owner where we had a disagreement that I was telling him what we see based on our experience and how having positive reviews in Google can change your business. Even when you come to a point where you get 100 plus reviews on Google and Google Business Profile, it makes all the difference in the world in terms of SEO ranking of getting inbound calls. And that person was arguing me that they don’t need reviews. They have grown their cleaning company without reviews. And he didn’t care about reviews. And the guy, I Googled him, he has three reviews, and two of them were negative they had 1-star. So I want to hear your opinion about reviews and how important are they for a cleaning company?

AJ Simmons [00:25:15]:

I think they’re extremely important for every cleaning company, but any company in general.

AJ Simmons [00:25:20]:

If I go out of town right.

AJ Simmons [00:25:22]:

Now and I’m looking for a place to eat, I’m going to look on Google and I’m going to look and see which one is five star.

AJ Simmons [00:25:27]:

And I’m also going to look and see what the reviews actually say, not just the rates.

AJ Simmons [00:25:31]:

So I’m not sure what prompted that person to think that way, but no, Google views are huge. It’s actually one of the very first.

AJ Simmons [00:25:41]:

Things I teach people to do is.

AJ Simmons [00:25:43]:

Just simply get yourself on Google.

AJ Simmons [00:25:45]:

My business, I don’t know if they.

AJ Simmons [00:25:45]:

Still call it now Google Business Profile, but you have to that’s mandatory. I mean, you have to get up there and then also put yourself in.

AJ Simmons [00:25:54]:

A way to you start talking about the automation stuff, but automate a way.

AJ Simmons [00:25:58]:

To start asking for these reviews, you.

AJ Simmons [00:26:00]:

Know what I mean?

AJ Simmons [00:26:01]:

Like nonstop, because it makes a huge difference. I don’t think I even have to beat that point off.

AJ Simmons [00:26:06]:

I think anybody doesn’t get that, they don’t want to get it for whatever.

AJ Simmons [00:26:09]:

Reason, but they’re holding themselves back.

Samuel Klein [00:26:11]:

Yeah, I know. 100% and automated. Again, it’s just one click and you will automate the process of asking for our reviews via text message, via email. If they don’t reply, they will send another reminder. But we live in the review economy also everything is based on review and it has so much different impacts in terms of SEO, of ranking, of reputation and we see it all the times, the companies that have less than 20 reviews versus the one that have more than 100, the amount of calls that they get. And it’s beautiful because at that point they don’t have to rely so much on paid advertising. It’s just organic.

AJ Simmons [00:26:55]:

I say that too. You don’t have to pay for ads.

AJ Simmons [00:26:59]:

If you can get simply rank on.

AJ Simmons [00:27:02]:

Google, that’s the SEO part. But then also those ratings will help.

AJ Simmons [00:27:06]:

You to like you know what I mean?

AJ Simmons [00:27:07]:

And then you’ll be listed down know cleaning companies near me space. So no, I agree with you 1000%.

Samuel Klein [00:27:14]:

AJ, what type of goals do you set for your cleaning company? And where I’m going with this is that I think goals is crucial. I have a coach also that always says that what gets measured gets done. If you don’t have goals, you’re just floating around and surviving. I think every cleaning company should have different kind of goals. For example, I always preach that you should have review goals with your team. You figure it out a way that you have to get me five reviews per month no matter what. Like that you have your sales goals, retention goals, what type of goals do you reach or teach people to have?

AJ Simmons [00:28:01]:

So honestly, I haven’t set those goals yet because I honestly just got into this automation process. So now that I’m getting into this world, definitely should set a goal.

AJ Simmons [00:28:12]:

So now I guess I throw a tax on you. Do you have like a minimum goal? I’m thinking the more the merrier, obviously, but I’m always modest.

AJ Simmons [00:28:20]:

I’m thinking maybe 10% to 20% would be great. What are your thoughts on that?

Samuel Klein [00:28:24]:

So 20% on closed deals or what?

AJ Simmons [00:28:29]:

On just get the reviews from your actual customers.

Samuel Klein [00:28:33]:

So we try to get five reviews a month and what we do is again and we try to empower let me see if I have something here. But with all the cleaning companies that we work with, we empower them with just simple QR code and every team member should have this in their wallet. And if you see opportunity because the reality is not the owner of the business that you’re cleaning is not the one who has to give you the review. He can be the manager, he can be the facility manager. It can be an employee that is super happy that his space is clean. So just grab this, scan it, leave the review and that’s it. And we try to incentivize I think it’s worth that you really incentivize your team to get review because it will pay ten X poll later down the line. So you can make it something fun with your own team. And whoever gets more reviews, you give them whatever, a gift card, you take them to dinner a night, but whatever it is. But the point is that you have to take it very serious. The same way that you should have sales goals, you have proposals, no goals, how many proposals it sells, rather should send on a monthly basis. Retention, your retention. In a lot of cleaning companies we see that they only play the numbers game hard to make money like that. Yeah, they’re great at selling and they close a lot, but they lose insanely amount of accounts. Right.

AJ Simmons [00:30:10]:

I’m going to jump in, Sam, be clear. So I’m going to repeat this and.

AJ Simmons [00:30:15]:

I’m going to give you credit every time I say this.

AJ Simmons [00:30:17]:

Samuel Klein told me because that QR code idea genius, man. And so I just had a person.

AJ Simmons [00:30:23]:

I was coaching the other day, they were asking me about like what do.

AJ Simmons [00:30:25]:

You do when the point of contact.

AJ Simmons [00:30:27]:

Is complaining but everybody else in the building, you know, telling you’ve done a great job, y’all are better than the last.

AJ Simmons [00:30:33]:

Company, and all of that. And I just told them, make sure you get their name, make sure that.

AJ Simmons [00:30:38]:

You have asked them, can I use.

AJ Simmons [00:30:40]:

That as a review? Can I quote that? Blah, blah, blah. And what I would do was I would email them like a newsletter, you.

AJ Simmons [00:30:45]:

Know what I mean?

AJ Simmons [00:30:46]:

Just saying, here’s what Bob, in accounting said, here’s what Mary over in the factory said, right? And just kind of let the opponent.

AJ Simmons [00:30:53]:

Contact know what the people are saying.

AJ Simmons [00:30:54]:

And these are names that you actually know from your facility, but that’s even a step further to where now not only are we not letting the POC know for client retention, but we should also be letting Google know so that way we can get client attraction as well. So I love that feedback, there sam.

Samuel Klein [00:31:13]:

I appreciate it, and later on I will send you some cool stuff that you will love because it’s all about getting creative if you do whatever people are doing. Another thing that we do to not get reviews, but also that we recommend people. And I want to hear if you have experience with this clients. It comes to a point where what we see is that going back to the sales process and how to sell, you set the appointment, you go to a walk through, send a proposal and at that point, a lot of facilities, they will get at least two, three proposals to compare and then they make a decision.

AJ Simmons [00:31:55]:


Samuel Klein [00:31:56]:

So now you’re competing with three companies, which is very common or more. How do you stand out? So for that, what we have done is that we build little packages. You don’t have to spend much money. But if at that point you know that you have someone who is super qualified who is going to pull the trigger very soon and it’s going to be you or your competitor. And people are obsessed with competing, with pricing and you should compete on experience, on the experience that you’re providing that person since day one. So things that we’re doing is that we for example, take this kind of can and fill it out with chocolate and candies and something or some pen with a mob head and I give it to the decision maker and that’s it. Just enjoy, have a great day with a nice letter, a goodbye letter that will get you so far. Because again, in this industry, everybody is going 1000 mph that nobody is stopping to build relationships. This is your customer, you don’t know if they have 20 more locations. So try to set yourself apart by going to the Dollar store and buy simple things that will make all the difference for sure.

AJ Simmons [00:33:15]:

And it sounds like you’re not just emailing back the proposal, it sounds like.

AJ Simmons [00:33:18]:

You want to go back and hand it to them personally.

Samuel Klein [00:33:21]:

Correct. If the account is relevant enough and it’s at least $1,000 per month, why not? That’s how you build relationship. My opinion.

AJ Simmons [00:33:32]:

Love it.

Samuel Klein [00:33:34]:

So let’s talk a little bit about the future of the industry. You’ve been part of the gaining industry way before. I knew that this was one of the best kept secrets and that I never have met so many millionaires in this industry until I got really deep here. And I talked with my friends and yeah, I have an agency that focus on the janitorial industry. They see me like, what the heck, this guy is never going to make nothing. Always say that it is one of the best kept secrets out there. You started your journey, I believe, when? In 2001, 2014, when I started as an actual owner.

AJ Simmons [00:34:23]:

I’ll say it was 2016 when I started as a cleaner.

Samuel Klein [00:34:26]:

What has changed since 2016 to today? If something? And where do you see this industry going? Five years, ten years or even next year. Things are moving so fast.

AJ Simmons [00:34:40]:

Yeah, honestly, from my perspective, not much. I mean it’s always been one of.

AJ Simmons [00:34:44]:

Those silent killers where nobody thinks it makes the money.

Samuel Klein [00:34:48]:

That it does.

AJ Simmons [00:34:49]:

It really does.

AJ Simmons [00:34:50]:

It’s always going to be the big, you got the big guys out there.

AJ Simmons [00:34:53]:

We’re going to sub to the little.

AJ Simmons [00:34:54]:

Guys, you got some of the companies.

AJ Simmons [00:34:55]:

Going to hire their own, one or two people. But for the most part it’s been this way for a long, long time. I think it really shifted when the COVID came because then people really started.

AJ Simmons [00:35:04]:

To pay more attention to the disinfecting part of it then doing that type of stuff.

AJ Simmons [00:35:09]:

But with AI on the rise and with the robots coming, the only thing.

AJ Simmons [00:35:16]:

I think might change a little bit is that and I don’t think it’s.

AJ Simmons [00:35:20]:

Going to hurt us. I think it’ll help the owners.

AJ Simmons [00:35:22]:

Obviously, if you were doing this industry.

AJ Simmons [00:35:24]:

As an employee, and I’m not scared.

AJ Simmons [00:35:26]:

To say it because I’m sure the.

AJ Simmons [00:35:27]:

Employees aren’t listening to this particular podcast.

AJ Simmons [00:35:30]:

But owners, I think it’ll actually help.

AJ Simmons [00:35:33]:

Us because some of these robots will.

AJ Simmons [00:35:36]:

Be able to do a lot of.

AJ Simmons [00:35:37]:

The things that our planner just didn’t want to do.

AJ Simmons [00:35:39]:

And so, I mean, obviously we have.

AJ Simmons [00:35:41]:

To pay the cost for the robots. But once that’s paid for, that’s paid for, we can use them for as long as they’ll run. So other than the exception of the AI, then AI also could kind of.

AJ Simmons [00:35:51]:

Fill in a lot of these, which they’re already doing it.

AJ Simmons [00:35:54]:

You and I both know with the.

AJ Simmons [00:35:55]:

CRM, this AI is filling a lot of the roles that some of our.

AJ Simmons [00:36:01]:

Office staff was filling. But other than those two things, the industry itself, I think, is definitely on.

AJ Simmons [00:36:07]:

The rise, going to continue to rise.

AJ Simmons [00:36:09]:

I mean, as long as buildings exit, somebody has to clean them.

AJ Simmons [00:36:12]:

Somebody has to run the company that does the cleaning for them. So I think we always on the up and up. And that’s just my opinion on it.

AJ Simmons [00:36:18]:

I’m no expert, no, perfect.

Samuel Klein [00:36:21]:

Again, I love that people are hearing this from you, that you are in the trenches, but you also speak with cleaning companies every day. And this is what I love about this industry. It’s very steady. There is nothing that is going to completely disrupt, I think. Now, in my opinion as well, we had a client that also bought like five machines that clean absolutely everything, thinking that he was going to kill it and he’s losing money on the machines. It was a huge investment. And there is nothing like the cleaners, like a good cleaner that can spot the details. Nothing, at least as today, is going to replace that. Pretty sure in the long future that’s going to happen. The way that you sell to accounts is one of the few industries that the most effective way is grabbing the phone and calling.

AJ Simmons [00:37:18]:


Samuel Klein [00:37:21]:

So I want to be respectful of your time and start wrapping up this amazing interview. I appreciate your time. I want to hear a little bit from you. What upcoming projects initiative you have. Know that people should stay aware. I think I heard something about a book here and there. Yeah. Share with us what’s coming. Yeah.

AJ Simmons [00:37:43]:

So I didn’t even know that got out there. But I do have a book I’m secretly working on. I don’t have the title yet because I’m going back and forth on if.

AJ Simmons [00:37:51]:

I want to make it clean and industry specific or just service business specific, because it really applies across the board. But I don’t have a date for it. I’m expecting to finish it by the.

AJ Simmons [00:38:02]:

End of this month, but I don’t have a release date for it, so.

AJ Simmons [00:38:04]:

I won’t speak on that. I also have the Clean Biz Network conference. So we just finished the last one for this year. It was last.

AJ Simmons [00:38:14]:

Was Miss Debbie Sardon came by. A lot of people know who she is in the industry.

AJ Simmons [00:38:18]:

Been killing it for a long, long time.

AJ Simmons [00:38:20]:

My guy, Ricky Regalato from Route. He stopped by Jason Lee with lead.

AJ Simmons [00:38:25]:

Building maintenance out of Maryland.

AJ Simmons [00:38:28]:

Ms. Katrina Johnson down in Georgia.

AJ Simmons [00:38:31]:

I think it was Savannah, Georgia. She’s a pretty big influencer in the space as well.

AJ Simmons [00:38:36]:

And she came and showed up a.

AJ Simmons [00:38:38]:

Lot of great people. Carolina, Arilano and so if you’re interested, you can check out www.cbnconference.com. It’s just CBN Show Clean Biz Network.

AJ Simmons [00:38:48]:

And we definitely going to be looking.

AJ Simmons [00:38:49]:

For sponsors if anybody’s interested in getting.

AJ Simmons [00:38:52]:

Their business or whatever they’re offering out there.

AJ Simmons [00:38:54]:

And then also we’ll be have tickets.

AJ Simmons [00:38:55]:

Available, so if you want to show.

AJ Simmons [00:38:56]:

Up or even if you’re interested in being a speaker.

AJ Simmons [00:38:59]:

I don’t have all my speakers this.

AJ Simmons [00:39:00]:

Year yet, so it’ll be in Vegas. I was pushing for February, but time is coming quickly, so it may get pushed back. But definitely check out the website for.

AJ Simmons [00:39:09]:

More information on that.

AJ Simmons [00:39:11]:

That’s really the main thing.

AJ Simmons [00:39:12]:

And then everything else www.cleanbiznetwork.com for all of the.

AJ Simmons [00:39:16]:

Other stuff we got going on.

Samuel Klein [00:39:18]:

Amazing. AJ. Thank you so much. For those who are not aware, this is my first time having the opportunity to talk with AJ and we shoot him an email and hoping for the best. We never expect much of a reply. The guy is super, almost super amazing. Again, he didn’t have to do this interview and he replied back, hey, Sam, 100%. Let’s do it. That shows the quality of person you are and your abundance mindset and how accessible you are, knowing that you have 60,000 followers and you have helped hundreds of people and you keep growing. You’re there and you we have the phone and you do your hustle and you take care of your brand. And I respect that immensely. So appreciate you, man. Thanks for your time and yeah, looking forward for reconnecting with you.

AJ Simmons [00:40:08]:

Come on.

INTRO/OUTRO [00:40:09]:

Thank you for listening to the Cleaning in Motion show. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes. In the meantime, find more resources, including more sales and marketing tactics online@cleaninginmotion.com. That’s cleaningIn motion. Until next time.

Join our cleaning business marketing community


Join our community

By submitting this form, you agree to our privacy policy and to be contacted by Cleaning In Motion.


Enter your email to be
subscribed to our newsletter